Mother’s Day (1980)

Co-written and produced by Charles Kaufman, brother of Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman, this is a rough affair all about an insane woman and her two even crazier sons capturing and torturing three young women. It’s our thank you to mothers everywhere — happy Mother’s Day!

A bunch of hippies are about to graduate from a Growth Opportunity workshop, which is a very 1970’s affair. Two of them, Terry and Charlie, plan to rob and kill an old woman who gives them a ride home. They didn’t expect Ike (Frederick Coffin, Alone in the Dark) and Addley, the woman’s two sons, to come out of the woods and cut off Charlie’s head. And then Mother herself chokes out Terry.

Now it’s time to meet our heroines, three women who have been friends for a long time (the Rat Pack!) who reunite every year for a camping trip. Abbey, Jackie and Trina are having a blast in the woods when the boys abduct them in their sleeping bags, then torture and abuse them.

The next day, Abbey and Trina make their escape, yet discover the dead bodies of Terry and Charlie, as well as Jackie who has been destroyed and left in a drawer. Meanwhile, Queenie, Mother’s deformed and werewolf-like sister who feeds on dead animals, has been sighted in the woods.

Jackie dies of her wounds as the Abbey and Trina make a plan of revenge against the brothers. They dispatch of Addley and then Ike jumps out of a window to attack them, but gets Drano poured down his throat, a TV dropped on his head and is finally killed with an electric carving knife. Then, they use inflatable breasts to suffocate Mother.

I liked how the girls have a strong relationship and defend one another, somewhat defying the Final Girl convention.

After burying Jackie in the woods, the girls attempt to leave, but Queenie leaps to attack as the credits roll. This would be surprising if it wasn’t ruined by so many of the trailers.

If this film looks like it was shot in a grimy murder house, well, it’s because it was. It was shot in an abandoned house in Newton, New Jersey that had been empty for 15 years, with the original owner being killed inside the home and another body had been found just prior to filming.

Beatrice Pons was billed as Rose Ross and Frederick Coffin was billed as Holden McGuire due to their membership in the Screen Actor’s Guild prohibiting them from appearing in non-union films. In fact, Beatrice was supposedly so eager to accept the lead role that she voluntarily breached SAG’s “Global Rule One” policy, by changing her name!

There’s also an insane Hollywood party opening, packed with old men and young women hooking up, roller skating, coke snorting and a butler with a long coat and no pants. This scene feels like it inspired the Boogie Nights pool parties scenes at Jack Horner’s house.

Mother’s Day was kind of, sort of remade in 2010 with Rebecca De Mornay as Mother. It isn’t as well regarded as this film.

While this is a Troma movie, I tried not to hold it against this film, It’s a pretty simple, quick moving affair. And well worth checking out. Maybe you shouldn’t share it with your mom, though. Get her some chocolates or something.

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